INDUCTIVE STUDIES ON REVELATION
The Three Cycles of God's Wrath
The Seven Bowls of Wrath
(Rev. 15-16:21 )
THE SCRIPTURES (15:1-16:21)
1 And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels who had seven plagues, which are the last, because in them the wrath of God is finished. 2 And I saw as it were a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had been victorious from the beast and from his image and from the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, holding harps of God. 3 And they sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, " Great and marvelous are Thy works, O Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Thy ways, Thou King of the nations! 4 "Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? For Thou alone art holy; For ALL THE NATIONS WILL COME AND WORSHIP BEFORE THEE, FOR THY RIGHTEOUS ACTS HAVE BEEN REVEALED."
5 After these things I looked, and behold, the temple of the tabernacle of testimony in heaven was opened, 6 and the seven angels who had the seven plagues came out of the temple, clothed in linen, clean and bright, and girded around their breasts with golden girdles. 7 And one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God, who lives forever and ever. 8 And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power; and no one was able to enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished.
1 And I heard a loud voice from the temple, saying to the seven angels, "Go and pour out into the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God." 2 And the first angel went and poured out his bowl into the earth ; and it became a loathsome and malignant sore upon the men who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped his image.
3 And the second angel poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became blood like that of a dead man ; and every living thing in the sea died.
4 And the third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of waters ; and they became blood. 5 And I heard the angel of the waters saying, "Righteous art Thou, who art and who wast, O Holy One, because Thou didst judge these things ; 6 for they poured out the blood of saints and prophets, and Thou hast given them blood to drink. They deserve it." 7 And I heard the altar saying, "Yes, O Lord God, the Almighty, true and righteous art Thy judgments."
8 And the fourth angel poured out his bowl upon the sun, and it was given to it to scorch men with fire. 9 And men were scorched with fierce heat; and they blasphemed the name of God who has the power over these plagues, and they did not repent so as to give Him glory.
10 And the fifth angel poured out his bowl onto the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became darkened; and they gnawed their tongues because of pain, 11 and they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores ; and they did not repent of their deeds.
12 The sixth angel poured out his bowl upon the great river, the Euphrates; and its water was dried up, so that the way would be prepared for the kings from the east. 13 And I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs; 14 for they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty. 15 ("Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, lest he walk about naked and men see his shame.") 16 And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon.
17 And the seventh angel poured out his bowl upon the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple from the throne, saying, "It is done." 18 And there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder; and there was a great earthquake, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth, so great an earthquake was it, and so mighty. 19 And the great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath. 20 And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. 21 And huge hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, came down from heaven upon men; and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, because its plague was extremely severe.
We have come to the end of the 7 years of tribulation. John first introduced for us the 7 churches who were experiencing tribulation at the hands of the Antichrist (the Roman Emperor Domitian); then John took us behind the scenes to assure us that God is still on His throne--that He is NOT happy with what is happening to his people--and that Christ is the One worthy to execute judgment upon the Antichrist and his followers. At this point, we saw the Lamb execute wrath upon the Antichrist and his followers by means of the 7 seals and then the 7 trumpets. Between the 6th and 7th trumpets we saw that God had sent witnesses to His people Israel to bring them to salvation. The witness of these 2 representatives from God is so effective that many, if not all, the Jews living in Jerusalem turn to Christ for salvation.
At this point, it is all over. So many of Christ's followers have been martyred but are now safe with Him (Rev. 7:9-17). All that is left is a final destruction upon the Antichrist and his followers, the enemies of God's people, the followers of Jesus. The 7 bowls of wrath complete God's wrath upon him and his followers.
PREPARATION FOR THE BOWLS OF WRATH (15:1-8)
Whom does John see in verse 1 and what is so important about them?
Although God is about to pour complete wrath now upon His enemies, His people are safe. 2 "And I saw as it were a sea of glass mixed with ____________, and those who had been ______________ from the beast and from his image and from the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, holding harps of God."
What does standing on this fiery sea signify? The fiery sea may show that these Christians are in the midst of tribulation and that God is about to deliver them. It may signify though that fire is shooting from the throne because God's wrath is hot. In fact, His wrath is so hot against the Antichrist and his followers because they persecute the followers of His Son, that He is now going to bring total destruction upon them.
The song they sing is called the song of which 2 people?
For me, this again reinforces the claim that what God has done in the past gives us a taste of what He is going to do in the future.
In verses 5 and 6 what is opened and who comes out of it?
What does one of the 4 living creatures give to the 7 angels?
According to v. 8why can't anybody enter into the Temple?
THE FIRST BOWL OF WRATH (16:1-2)
Who tells the 7 angels to go pour out the 7 bowls of wrath upon the earth in v. 1? [This is significant because it shows that this Person is not removed from what is going on here on earth. He is the judge, not in the sense of our modern judicial system as an impartial arbitrator. He is the judge in the sense of the OT judges (Book of Judges) who fights for his people.]
What happens whenever the first angel pours out his bowl of wrath upon the earth?
Whom does this bowl affect?
THE SECOND BOWL OF WRATH (16:3)
What happens when the second angel pours out his bowl upon the sea, and what does this bowl affect?
THE THIRD BOWL OF WRATH (16:4-7)
What happens when the third angel pours out his bowl upon the fresh waters, and what does it affect?
In this passage, John gives the reason why God is just in making these drink blood. What reason does John give which shows that God is always just whenever He metes out punishment?
God never OVER-punishes or UNDER-disciplines. Paul claimed that on Judgment Day every tongue will be hushed because everybody will have to admit that God is righteous in His judgments (Rom. 3:4).
THE FOURTH BOWL OF WRATH (16:8-9)
What happens when the fourth angel pours out his bowl of wrath, and whom did it affect?
How did these people respond whenever this plague fell upon them?
In spite of all this, they simply remain in their rebellion. When God the Son came in love, they rejected Him; when God the Son came in wrath, they still rejected Him. No matter what He does, they simply don't want Him.
This reminds me once more of a scene from The Last Battle in The Chronicles of Narnia whenever all the Narnians have a chance to enter the New Narnia, heaven. They want to enter, but once they see that Jesus is going to be there, they simply turn away to destruction. How very sad. C. S. Lewis claims this about those who go to hell: "I willingly believe that the damned are, in one sense, successful, rebels to the end; that the doors of hell are locked on the inside" (The Problem of Pain).
THE FIFTH BOWL OF WRATH (16:10-11)
What happens whenever the fifth angel pours out his bowl upon the throne of the beast?
How do the people who follow the beast respond when this happens?
THE SIXTH BOWL OF WRATH (16:12-16)
After the sixth angel pours out his bowl upon the great river Euphrates causing it to dry up, who comes from the east?
This action is part of a movement against the BEAST, not against Israel. The bowls of wrath are God's judgment against the enemies of His people, not against His people.
How do the dragon, beast, and false prophet respond when these kings come from the east?
Most likely these creatures represent a demonic propaganda machine, deceiving the beast's allies to come support him in his war against the kings from the east.
Where does this battle occur (16:16)?
This is an actual location in Israel, the Valley of Megiddo, in the Valley of Jezreel which runs from northwest to southeast in the northern part of Israel. The village of Nazareth where Jesus grew up and Mt. Carmel where Elijah slew the priests of Baal overlook this valley. It is interesting to note that every day for 30 years Jesus woke up to see the place where the world's climatic battle would occur.
Because many think of this place only as the location of the final battle between the forces of good and evil, few realize though the historical significance of this place. It was here that Deborah and Barak defeated the Canaanite forces of Sisera (Judges ......); it was here that Gideon slew the Mideonites. Saul and his son Jonathan fell on Mt. Gilboa which overlooks the Jezreel Valley. Israel's great king Josiah fell in battle against Pharaoh Neco at this spot.
Why was this strip of land so significant in ancient times? Because whoever controlled Meggido controlled the main trade route between China/Arabia and Egypt which passed through the Jezreel Valley. For this reason war constantly took place at this location.
MOREOVER, this spot has significance in modern times too. During WW1 General Allenby who headed up the British forces in the Middle East maneuvered the Turks to force them to fight him in the Jezreel Valley, that is, Armageddon. Why? Because he wanted this war to be the final war. After he defeated the Turks there, he was called "Allenby of Armageddon."
Even more recently, during the Six Days War (1967) the Israeli and Syrian air forces engaged in dog fights over the Valley of Jezreel. In any future war, this is one of the few places in Israel where massive armies can gather.
All this may seem far-fetched (having little to do with the present), but the truth is that for the past 40+ years this area of the world has been the focus of international tension. For many, if we could just get the Jew off the land of Israel/Palestine, all would be well. Islamic terrorists today continue to use the Israeli presence in the Holy Land as rationale for their attacks against the West. All the past and the present seem to point to a future time when Armageddon will be the site of a final conflict between the forces of good and the forces of evil.
Few people realize the significance of verse 15. One of Jesus' most famous sayings is that He will return like a thief in the night. Most conservative Christians claim that Jesus coming like a thief in the night refers to His coming at the rapture. What is happening in verses 12-16, the time in which Jesus will come like a thief in the night?
If Jesus' second coming occurs like a thief in the night and John places this verse at this point, then it is easy to see why many claim that Jesus' second coming (the rapture which comes like a thief in the night) occurs at the time of Armageddon. Will Christians then be caught off guard? No, because they will know He is about to return whenever the Battle of Armageddon is about to occur. Paul himself claimed that Christians will not be caught off guard by Christ's return (1 Thess. 5:4). This may all explain why.
THE SEVENTH BOWL OF WRATH (16:17-21)
According to v. 17, whenever the seventh angel pours out his bowl upon the air, what does the voice from the Temple say?
Whose voice would that be (15:8)?
What happens whenever the 7th angel pours out his bowl upon the air (16:18-21)?
How do people respond whenever the plague of hail hits them (16:21)?
Rebels to the bitter end.